Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Bug's Life Through My Lens

It is weird how ungodly late I slept the night before this, and yet I woke up impossibly early, even before the sun rose. I readied my equipment for my next photography experiment at the nearby park for some garden shooting. I called this an experiment rather than an adventure because I was mainly trying out what the new flash unit (FL-36R) is capable of and the impact it could impose on my photo outputs, especially macro.

Yes, I know it is quite difficult to wake me up for normal working days, but for camera related activities, no alarm clock is needed for me to get off bed, and I even did it more than willingly.


Note: I found this tip somewhere online, to create a stunning flower, simply add water !! It works, right?

I am still currently stuck with my kit lenses, with no dedicated macro equipments. My usual combo of tele-zoom lens + close up filter still serves me well on my macro attempts. The magnification factor achieved is marginally greater than using the standard zoom lens + close up filter, but still the enlargement was not exactly true life macro of minimum 1:1, and somehow as I zoom in closer to my subjects, the photo quality suffers overall softness and chromatic aberration. The tele lens is not designed for macro shooting purposes, yet I forced it to do so for me, so please do not expect miracles to happen.

You will not see the overblown sizes of spider's eight eyes in this entry, and I have thought of stacking another filter, but hey, it would be a wise move to just grab a real macro lens to get the job done effectively.


Mounting my flash on the camera it gave the assurance of steadiness, since I could shoot at much higher shutter speed, mitigating the problems of camera shake. But there comes other problems such as getting the amount of light and direction from where it was fired right, and this was no easy task. I tried not to fire directly onto the subjects, and most of the time I found that what worked best was tilting the flash 45 degrees or further up and fire at reduced intensity with the omnibounce diffuser placed tightly over the flash. Some situations it worked well, but there were a few times direct flash could accomplish more desirable results. I am still new at this, but trying not to overblow the picture (too high in contrast and exposure) was quite a challenge.



I liked how the flash could illuminate and reveal the details in the parts of the subject the natural lighting could not, especially the shadowy and darker parts. And I also quite fancy the additional boost in contrast and colour complementing the purpose of bringing out the focus on the subject.

Flowers and plants are easier to play around with, since they do not move. And you can have as many trials as you can to get that perfect shot.


Unfortunately, bugs are rather different. Most of them would be very shy and hid under leaves or branches. And should they appear at the right spot for you to photograph, they won't stay there for very long. The most you could get would be just a few meagre attempts, hence quick thinking and response are essential to produce good results. You may think that focusing and capturing those pictures of insects are easy, and macro seems unchallenging, but I would like to point it out to you otherwise. The spiders in this entry were rather tiny, each of them sized less than a puny 1cm. When a lens is placed that near to it, you will have a few issues to work out: you will have focusing issues since the subject is so small. Even moving your lens back by just 0.5cm of the desired focal zone, you will miss the shot entirely. You have to be dead steady as a wood to get spot on focus, and that imvolves holding breathe techniques (as you breathe you move your whole body). I guess it is difficult trying to explain it here, once you have done macro before you will realize it is nothing simple.


Oh and the risk of scaring them away as you place your lens closer... and also the blood sacrifice you have to make to the ever hungry little vampires we call the mosquitoes. You see, you can't raise your hand and smack those 5 mosquitoes that just landed on your neck, because if you do so, the bugs you were trying to photograph would be spooked and well.. there goes your opportunity.

Damned mosquitoes.

Anyway, like I have mentioned in my earlier entry, this was just a trial run to familiarize myself with the flash. It was a great fun to work with bugs and plants, and certainly it was nice to capture a glimpse of depleting nature in this giant city of Kuala Lumpur. I would not say that those pictures are good example of macro, sicne it was not taken with a true macro lens, and somehow technically it suffers especially when amount of details being resolved by the lens is concerned. Nonetheless, I do like bugs as the way I see them through my lens.

I believe I would have more luck locating more interesting bugs (those uber colourful ones) in Kuching gardens. Here, maybe I will have to run into the forest for something more interesting.


  1. hey allen,
    yeah man... buggers LOL...

  2. gorgeous. absolutely gorgeous!

    u sure u didn't plagiarise these photos from somewhere else?


  3. hey marcus,
    thanks.. what plagiarism LOL...

  4. Hey jason,
    Im so sweet and innocent man.

  5. Oooh... so purdy! I'm awed, Robin.

  6. hey ann,
    thanks !! But still need a real macro lens to get those real stunning macro shots.

  7. Hey Dude
    I noticed you seem to like to do a lot of nature shots. Maybe the next time you're in Singapore, you should consider heading to the zoo and going to the Fragile Forest exhibit. It's this huge biodome which is meant to replicate the rainforest environment and there's lots of free ranging wild life in there! :D

  8. hey nadia,
    yeah I do love taking pictures outdoor, but unfortunately this KL is not quite the right place to do so.
    Thanks for the tips !! I will surely check that place out the next time I travel to Singapore.